Why NBC had to pull Community from Thursdays

Community has been the point of discussion all afternoon, ever since NBC announced its mid-season plans, and Community was noticeably not on the list of comedies to air on Thursday night. Tonight, I have probably heard more  uproar about this show than ever. On Twitter, my blog, and in person. I even talked about it on my weekly radio show, The Red Carpet Report. The majority of people who I have talked to don’t follow the latest TV news and don’t really know the whole story about why NBC has removed this show from the lineup. Honestly, nobody knows why. Only the NBC executives who pulled the plug, without even giving people any notice, or reason why.

I will state up front, I am not a Community fan, at all This isn’t a rant on how much I hate NBC for pulling the show off the air. I actually commend them for doing this. I did try to watch during its second seasons infamous paintball episode, but I just never got hooked. It’s just one of the critically acclaimed shows that flies under some people’s radar. It happens to the best of us.

However, people need to realize that NBC is a company. They work for profits. Profits come from ratings. Ratings isn’t something that NBC has right now. So no ratings = no profits, and no profits = no jobs. Get it?

NBC has given Community 2 and a half seasons to grow its audience. The network has been patient, and that’s the one thing I can give NBC credit for, their patience. Their patience has paid off for them before when a show had a slow start. Seinfeld took 3 seasons to become the hit it did. The Office was on the air for 2 seasons before the audience started to warm up for Micheal Scott & Co. Same thing goes for 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation. Lightning just didn’t strike this time with Community.

NBC’s newest entertainment president Bob Greenblatt, who was recently hired from Showtime to re-invent the network can’t help that this season was of the worst in recent history, he didn’t help develop any of these shows. His stamp will be made next season. But he does realize that things need to change.

Aside from Prime Suspect – which was also yanked from the schedule for mid-season – Community is the lowest rated show on NBC Thursday nights. averaging a 1.5 in the 8p.m. slot and under 4 million viewers isn’t going to cut it anymore, and now people at the network are realizing this. It also doesn’t help that CBS moved its mega-hit The Big Bang Theory to the same timeslot of Community last season, as both shows share similar audiences’.

In my opinion, pulling Community from the line-up is sending a message to the TV industry saying “we aren’t going to keep low-rated shows on the air.” They aren’t really saying that, don’t quote me, but that’s my interpretation.

Why keep a low rated show on the air, bring down your yearly averages to satisfy a couple of critic and cult fans? Especially if other shows on the network are performing better, and if the show has the opportunity to grow. Whitney and Up All Night aren’t burning up the weekly Top 20 charts, but Up All Night is moving to the lucrative post-The Office spot starting January 12th, and NBC has the confidence that Whitney will be a great launch pad for Are You There, Chelsea? We’ll see if that’s a good idea come January 11th.

One thing people must realize is Community is NOT cancelled! It surely could return sometime late spring, or over the summer. But it isn’t cancelled, so all you Community fans can take a sigh of relief. Another thing, a very big thing, Community is one season away from hitting the magic number 88; the number of episodes needed for syndication. NBC and Sony (the studio who produces the show) can some to an 11th hour decision in May to keep the show on for one more season to make the extra money for the studio. Is this out of the realm of possibility? No. But I wouldn’t hold my breath either.

If Community is permanently gone from the NBC schedule and is cancelled, people will of course be upset. If I were a fan, I’d be upset too. But its a business. It’s all about ratings. No matter how many epic paintball episodes, or will they-wont they moments with Jeff and Brita, they show has to come to an end sometime. This season just may be the time.

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